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Lessons from the First Mexican-Born Treasurer of the United States

by Rosario Marín

Pub Date: June 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7432-8645-9
Publisher: Atria

Lackluster memoir buries an unusual immigrant’s success story in pedestrian prose.

Raised in poverty in Mexico City, Marín moved with her family to California in 1972 at age 14. Three decades later, she became U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Bright and driven, she found opportunity in adversity. After her first child was born with Down syndrome in 1985, she made it her life’s mission to fight for people with disabilities. She created a support group for Latino families of Down’s children, worked as a state official to protect disabled services against budget cuts and in the 1990s served as Republican mayor and councilwoman of Huntington Park, a mainly Hispanic community. The Latina voice in Texas Governor Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, she was rewarded with the Treasury post, resigning after two years to make an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat. Marín’s warmth and humanity emerge in sections of the book. She discusses with feeling her childhood in a loving family, sexual abuse by a great-uncle, the exhilaration of learning that her family’s first American apartment had a telephone and television, the constant worry over the health of her young son, depression after a miscarriage and the thrill of seeing her official signature for the first time on a dollar bill. More often, though, she relies on generic, cliché-ridden exposition that reveals little. This is especially and most disappointingly the case in chapters about her experiences in the Bush cabinet: “It was my honor to travel the country and speak with the many affected by 9/11.” The final third of the book draws lessons from the author’s life and offers seven steps for success, beginning with “1. Always do the right thing.”

Filled with love for America and advice for young Latinas, this curious hodgepodge of a book falls flat.